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Working Equitation?

The cattle handling is in the team competition,

Isn’t that a Haflinger?

In working with my new as of May dressage trainer, I have learned that we have the starts of some working equitation interest in my area! Quite close actually! There have been a couple clinics nearby (which happened before I was aware) and unfortunately a USAWE show that was scheduled in two weeks just got cancelled. I was planning to go an observe :frowning:

In any event, the goal would be to start showing introductory dressage and ease of handling next year to not overface my guy as we would get into the show scene. And we even have cow sorting clinics locally; not for WE specifically but great for exposure none the less!

I would like to start working with him one handed, and don’t have a lot in the way of resources in the best way to go about that with bit choice, technique etc.

Many of the obstacles in the ease of handling would be much easier to manage riding with reins in one hand so that is the driver. Right now, we’re riding successfully in a full cheek slow twist. My trainer admittedly doesn’t know a ton about the best way to go about this but thought a Mullen mouth could be a place to start? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated as short of a slow stint in western pleasure with very well trained horses, I am pretty much a two handed life timer riding.

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I’m in Eastern Ontario and also interested in learning/trying out some very basic WE.
It looks like so much fun and very challenging too!
I did join the Ontario group …got all the rules and descriptions for the EOH obstacles.
However I believe there is only one instructor and there are no clinics within 2-3 hours of me.
Hopefully as word gets out there will be more next year.

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Our new barn owner, is a WE enthusiast and coach! We have a full range of obstacles, though I haven’t seen them since the last “away” show. I had thought my showing days were done, but seems not.

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We got our first go on cow sorting last night and while I don’t think we will win any speed awards, he seemed to get into it! Working eq cattle handling here we come :joy:


WEEEE!!! Sorting is so much fun!!

I think we both had a blast!!

It’s obvious that you and your horse were having a blast! He does look like he understood his job and was not intimidated by the cows at all. What a good boy! Plus he’s beautiful, too.

I think they need some fresh cattle. Those calves knew exactly what to do and where to go. For a first time though, he looks like he’s into it.

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That looks like such fun, so want to try it with Mellow!

Looks a lot easier in that area, than at the show I was volunteering at a few weeks ago

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There’s a Working Equitation clinic at Ed Dabney’s October 29th, out I-20 east of Atlanta.

It’s not on the form but if you need to rent a horse for the clinic, email him and ask. He usually does that for $50.


(His classical riding clinic is also really good, I’ve done that one several times now.)

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I don’t know the full details of the guy that hosts these, but he does them weekly throughout the summer. I think it’s a lot of first timers that check it out; definitely a good first time for us! I got to try it on a friends farm a decade ago and the steers she had were much more herd bound. I was on a true cutting horse as well that knew his job and that ride is up there on my best rides list! She told me to sit deep and hang on. That was good advice :joy:

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I would be scared to ride a true cutter, I know I would be out the side door! Riding a true reiner though is an absolute blast.

Your guy really seemed to enjoy this and knew his job!

I was hoping to try some WE this year as, like others, not really interested in showing dressage any more but this looks like so much fun. It’s new to Ontario, Canada, and is rapidly gaining interest and popularity. But, my poor guy has been having off and on lameness issues and may be retired soon so haven’t had a chance to look into WE further. Maybe next year.

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Before the Pandemic, I took several clinics with a World Working Equitation Champion from Germany (Rolf Jansen) at a facility that had Working Equitation obstacles. They were great! He put the dressage to work. He also rode my horse and made him look amazing.

Working equitation applies your dressage training to tasks. THe disciplines go hand in hand.



It was terrifying! Such a rush hahaha.

This is what I liked so much about it once I started learning more about it!


WE update! I have gotten in contact with our local association that recently started hosting WE events in my area. I will be going to a show to spectate and volunteer a bit to get to know the local folks and see how the shows are run. I contemplated competing after having a banner first dressage show this past weekend. I found out they will be hosting a couple licensed shows, clinics and schooling shows…and potentially a WE camp in 2023, so I’m going to hold off until then and keep attending the local schooling dressage shows to get my greenie a bit more familiar with shows. This one over the weekend was his first! I figure if we shoot for L1 in 2023 we should be pretty well prepared by 2024 for L2.

I would have never thought when I posted this topic that I’d have WE basically in my backyard…hour haul from my barn!


Long time no posting on COTH for me, but I saw this thread and had to chime in!

I am Atlanta-based and almost three years ago started my foray into Working Equitation I am traditionally a hunter rider :slight_smile:

Working equitation is based on the Spanish vaquero cowboy from before cattle were domesticated like today’s. Imagine you had matador bulls living on your farm and you needed to work the cattle. You would need a well-trained horse to manuever. Which is where the Dressage comes in. That is Phase One of a competitio (Dressage Phase). The bend protects your horse’s ribs from an imaginary goring and the elements of dressage are later applied to the next phases. It’s not just an obstacle course - there are certain dressage steps that are looked for at each obstacle and you are scored on each obstacle like it is a movement in a dressage test, complete with collective remarks.

Phase two is what is what you hear people call “Obstacles”. It is actually called “Ease of Handling”. The goal is here reminds me of a handy hunter course, showing style & finesse through each element and as noted above, executing it with the correct “steps”. For example the Gate obstacle involves turn on the forehand, sidepass, and backing, You are expected to approach on the correct lead for the bend needed and maintain bend or straightness throughout depending on the elements of the obstacle. Intro level ends here and doesn’t have the additional phases.

From there, we move on to the Speed round. The obstacles are still in play but now it’s like a jumper course, just get through fast and without any technical errors!

Lastly, you have cattle phase, where your skills and proficiency in the earlier phases are put to test with the real thing.

There is now one national governing body USA Working Equitation www.usawe.org I encourage you to look it up and go to clinics/shows/connect with a trainer. Some of the trainers mentioned in this thread are not USAWE affiliated and teach differently/don’t follow the rulebook for how elements should be executed.

Lastly, what I also really enjoy is anyone can do it! I have been doing it in Hunter tack, there are people doing it in Western tack, Dressage tack, Foxhunter tack, Spanish tack - I’ve even been at a show with a Saddleseat rider! It accomodates gaited and non-gaited, so come as you are and experience the comraderie!

Here’s a playlist link for some of my working eq journey! Always The Optimist - Working Equitation Journey - YouTube


I hope that WE gets more and more popular. For me riding in circles is getting old and the appeal of the WE being dressage with a purpose is exciting. Unfortunately I live in an area that has a group that hasn’t done much in the last year but I keep waiting to see if we will get some more activity in the area.

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